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Opinions about Pei Wei Asian Diner(s)

Chefpaulo May 15, 2008 12:27 PM

I was en route between Springfield and Radnor today and stopped at Pei Wei on Baltimore Pike. Seven foot high menu panels greet you with an interesting selection of fusion dishes. Service is in a rather cavernous, cafeteria-like atmosphere with blaring disco music. I had the two egg rolls for $4, the Mandarin Kung Pao for $8 and a self-serve soda for $1.86. The rolls were OK, the Kung Pao OK, but the 10oz. mound of rice was overkill. Overall, in terms of value and ambiance, a rip off. Many local restaurants have excellent lunch specials for half the $15 price tag with tablecloths, wait service and comfortable seating. Its not on my return trip list.

I understand they are a national chain with new outlets in Cherry Hill and City Line. Anyone else carry similar sentiments or did I miss something?

  1. f
    FoolForFood May 15, 2008 12:37 PM

    You're right, there's absolutely nothing special about this place or its "parent" restaurant PF Chang's. I mistakenly ordered shrimp green curry at the City Ave. location. It was so foul, in taste and appearance, that the manager gave me a card for a free lunch. Despite the allure of a free meal, I cannot bring myself to eat there...ever...again.

    1. t
      tfed May 16, 2008 01:49 PM

      If you dont like PF Changs you wont like this place. It is made for a casual dinner - especially if you have kids.

      I didnt think that the food was bad - I know it isnt "Chinese", but if you want that find a chinese restaurant

      1. t
        TampaAurora May 16, 2008 02:30 PM

        I agree, it is casual and the flavors are often off. For the same type of food, I prefer Mama Fu's for a slightly better flavor profile and for not having to carry my drinks in the dark.

        1 Reply
        1. re: TampaAurora
          Suzy Q May 16, 2008 06:02 PM

          We had a Mama Fu's here that failed pretty spectacularly. Not quite sure why - I always thought the food was good, but then again I only ever tried it for lunch, and I'm not too demanding then since it's usually a quick in and out. Pei Wei has several locations here, though, and all seem to be doing very well - so obviously somebody likes it.

        2. d
          DC Gal May 17, 2008 04:15 PM

          I guess I'm the loner here. Really it's probably because we lack good local chinese food here in our area. I'm hooked on Pei Wei. I love the Kung Pao (both the chicken and the beef are good) and the Asian Chicken Salad is good too. I think it is a nice touch that while you wait for a take-out order to be prepared, they offer you a complimentary beverage while you wait. And, oddly, their chocolate chip cookies are the bomb!

          Edit - I no longer live in the DC area, I've returned to my homestate of NC. I didn't want anyone to read the line about not having good chinese food where I live and think I must be crazy with all the good ethnic food in DC. I really miss the ethnic food in the DC area.

          1 Reply
          1. re: DC Gal
            ekdd Oct 14, 2012 07:10 AM

            This opened recently in bergen county. Underwhelmed and not inexpensive unless you get one of the 5 combination...smaller size dish plus one side (drinks are extra) for around 7 bucks. We spent 6o bucks for four. Hot and sour soup was good as was spring roll and edemame ok.. Sesame chicken and steak lo mein were barely touched by my kids. The veg coc curry was off. The chicken pad thai was best of main dishes.
            Kids loved drinkmachine but wont be back anytime soon. If in the bergen mall recommend whole foods salad bar or bobbys burger

          2. s
            StrandedYankee Oct 16, 2012 07:36 AM

            Food is edible. Some of it even makes it to tasty. Prices are moderate, but not low. I wouldn't go out of my way for Pei Wei, but if you're stuck in an area where chains seem like your only options...you could do worse.

            1. RetiredChef Oct 22, 2012 11:26 AM

              As others have mentioned Pei Wei is baby PF Chang's - personally I find PF Changs, Olive Garden and Red Lobster to all be about the same. Mass marketed food, dumbed down for the average chain diner that craves lots of salt, sugar and fat. Pei Wei just markets their food to the same dumbed down average fast food diner that craves lots of salt, sugar and fat.

              As far as your other comment about price, it really depends upon what is around your - when I lived in So-Cal I had tons of cheap Asian places that were super authentic and cheap. Where I live now there is one authentic szechuan but it's comparable to Pei Wei' price. And one decent 'Asian' that is cheaper but farther away. The rest of the choices just aren't worth it where I live.

              And now to lose all credibility if I was given the choice over Pei Wei or Panda Express, I would choose panda express.

              3 Replies
              1. re: RetiredChef
                mucho gordo Nov 3, 2012 09:44 AM

                Really!!! PE over PW???? Chacun a son gout, I guess. I've had PFC, but never PW, and thought it was mediocre and overpriced. At least, it was made to order whereas PE is premade, probably with frozen ingredients. The dishes are bland and mostly veggies with just a bit of protein. Mustard and chili oil are not fresh. They come in the small squeeze pack like McD's ketchup.

                1. re: mucho gordo
                  RetiredChef Nov 3, 2012 10:13 AM


                  Yes to each his own; ironically the things you seem to be complaining about are the things I like. PE gives you lots of vegetables just like they do in asia, they don’t cover up the ingredients with sickly sweet sauces (Americanized Chinese ala PFC). While PW does cook to order the slop to me resembles more of microwave frozen dinners while PE seems to be fresher and PE does use fresh vegetables. I just find them to be more authentic tasting and yes strangely enough, fresher tasting than PW.

                  1. re: RetiredChef
                    mucho gordo Nov 3, 2012 11:08 AM

                    I agree about sickly sweet sauces but, by the same token, if it's considered a meat dish, I expect a minimal amount of vegetables, not the opposite. I also understand that the less meat the higher the profit. At PE, the veggies may be fresh but, I can tell the meat is not by the uniformity of the pieces. PE is basically fast-food operation on a par with McD.

              2. Tripeler Oct 23, 2012 08:02 PM

                Is it true that Pei Wei was founded by Pei Wei Herman?

                1. ChrisOC Oct 28, 2012 03:52 PM

                  I had Pad Thai at the Pei Wei in Gilbert AZ. I thought it was rather tasty.

                  1. c
                    chowing kat Oct 28, 2012 07:40 PM

                    I happen to like their Asian Chopped Salad when I'm in the mood for an entree-sized salad. I add a couple dashes of their chili sauce and I'm good to go. Other than than, I'm neutral on it. But, as chains/fast food go, I think it's one of the better outlets.

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